- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

EAST POINT, Ga. Three D.C. fire officials whose resumes are being investigated in the District did not hold the rank of chief and were not qualified to hold that rank when they served in the East Point Fire Department in the 1990s, federal court records show.
These are the latest discrepancies that have emerged from the resumes and employment applications of Assistant D.C. Fire Chiefs Gary L. Garland and Marcus R. Anderson, and Deputy Fire Chief Bruce A. Cowan, which The Washington Times first reported March 13.
The resumes, which list professional experience and education the men do not possess, are being investigated by City Administrator John Koskinen, whose report on the matter is expected as early as today.
According to federal court records obtained by The Times, Chiefs Garland, Anderson and Cowan were not allowed to apply for the position of acting fire chief at East Point in 1997 because they were not captains and therefore not qualified to become chiefs.
Though the three men held key positions in the East Point Fire Department, they were barred from applying for the acting chief position because of a 1985 federal consent order, records show. The court order the Bledsoe Decree established promotional testing requirements for the department. Chiefs Garland and Cowan were plaintiffs in the original lawsuit that generated the decree when they were privates at East Point in the 1980s.
The three firefighters contend they held the rank of chief when they were assigned to their jobs by Fire Chief Ronnie Few, who left East Point in 1997 to head the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department in Georgia.
According to documents and personnel records obtained by The Times under Georgia's open-records law, Chief Cowan was assigned as "fire marshal" in 1993 and promoted to lieutenant in 1998; Chief Garland was assigned as "training officer" in 1993 and promoted to lieutenant in 1998; Chief Anderson was assigned as "EMS coordinator" and promoted to sergeant in 1998.
Chief Garland's resume says he was "Training Chief" at East Point; Chief Anderson's says he was "Chief Emergency Medical Services Division" and Chief Cowan's says he was "Chief Fire Marshal."
However, the federal consent order refers to the jobs of training officer, EMS coordinator and fire marshal as auxiliary positions, not as ranks. Chiefs Garland and Cowan signed the order in 1993 and assisted in drafting the Bledsoe Decree's promotional-testing requirements.
"Individuals assigned to auxiliary positions shall retain their former rank and compete for promotions to higher rank," reads the court order approved by U.S. District Court Judge Robert H. Hall in 1988 and again in 1993. "Auxiliary positions do not carry a rank that an individual retains when reassigned."
Chief Few, who took charge of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department in 2000, appointed his three aides during the past two years under an arrangement with the D.C. Council that allowed him to make the appointments without competition. In exchange for his carte blanche appointments, he promised the council not to hire his cronies.
The East Point Fire Department has about 110 workers. The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has 1,920 employees.
Chief Few, who has said he did not check the men's credentials because he knew them personally, has disputed reports in The Times, saying he had promoted the aides to the rank of chief. But the firefighters' personnel records show that none of them rose higher than the rank of lieutenant at East Point.
To become a chief, a firefighter first must attain the rank of captain and then pass a chief's test, according to documents obtained by The Times.
On July 9, 1998, Chiefs Garland and Cowan filed a federal lawsuit to modify the Bledsoe Decree, claiming that the city of East Point had unfairly denied them promotions as required by the consent order.
U.S. District Court Judge Marvin F. Shoob ruled on Oct. 19, 1998, that there was no evidence showing the city had violated the consent order and denied their motion to reopen the original case that had generated the Bledsoe Decree.
Court records show that Judge Shoob told the firefighters they would have to file a separate lawsuit if they wanted to challenge the promotional requirements. Federal court records in Atlanta show that no new lawsuit contesting the Bledsoe Decree was ever filed.

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